Name: Nikki White
Company: ABTA Ltd – The Travel Association
Title: Head of Destinations and Sustainability
Tell us about your company:
ABTA has been at the heart of travel for more than 60 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers – the travelling public – have confidence in their travel experience. The ABTA brand stands for expertise, reliability and fairness. These qualities are core to us. They ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members. We help our Members and their customers navigate through today’s changing travel landscape by providing schemes of financial protection and a course of redress if something goes wrong; by raising standards in the industry and by giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety; and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.
ABTA is the largest travel trade association operating in the UK. We have been repeatedly identified as a super-brand in the UK, in terms of consumer recognition. Destinations and sustainability are at the heart of our business and there’s a dedicated focus on the sustainability of industry activities to ensure that holidays are safe and sustainable and that destinations continue to benefit from tourism for many years to come.
How did you get into your line of work?
I’ve worked for many years with the tourism sector in marketing and strategic planning. Then three years ago I became a full time student and studied a masters in leadership for sustainable development.
What do you do day-to-day?
That’s a difficult one as my role looks after crisis management, health and safety, and operational challenges in countries. I have a team working on sustainability as well as a team working on our Travelife scheme, which recognises the environmental and social improvements made by hotels and other types of accommodation. So every day is very different. I can be giving a presentation like yours or chairing a meeting of leading tour operators across Europe. Then some rare days I might even be at my desk!
What’s the most exciting part of your role?
Every bit of it. The variety and new challenges which happen daily. Getting to work with so many different people gives me a real buzz. But I really enjoy stepping back and seeing how all the different elements of my role fit together to help towards safer, sustainable holidays.
Give us an overview of what you’ll be discussing at ABiC:
Why ABTA has taken destinations and sustainability into the heart of the organisation, what does destinations and sustainability mean, what we are doing as a team. From crisis management to long term destination partnerships, how it all fits together and why the industry is taking it on board.
What type of companies/individuals will find your talk relevant?
All travel and tourism companies that want to learn about recent developments in the sustainable tourism agenda and gain practical advice on why this is relevant to any business type or size.
How will they benefit from it?
They will learn about recent developments in the sustainability agenda and its applicability to the tourism industry.
Find out about practical tools that help companies manage the impact of sustainability on their own businesses and amongst their supply chains.
Plus, learn about crisis management and why it’s better to be prepared.
In your field, what exciting developments will 2012 bring?
Of concern to the industry would be changes on the legislative front such as EU ETS, APD and its potential doubling, increases to consumer financial protection through ATOL reform.
In sustainability I think we will continue to see increased awareness of the importance of managing impacts, plus increased and more active participation in ensuring the sustainability of tourism products by destination governments.
Of course, ABTA will be launching a number of exciting initiatives during 2012 which will focus on making sustainability a reality for all industry players whether they are excursion providers, ground agents, cruise operators or travel agents.
How best can the travel industry use social media and the internet?
Embracing social media is now a vital part of business in the tourism marketplace. It enables businesses to remain up to the minute and relevant to audiences. For a great example of industry engagement with social media check out the Fair Tax on Flying Facebook page that we set up (facebook.com/afairtaxonflying).
The challenge with social media is that it’s extremely dynamic and requires effort and commitment to keep content up-to-date. It can assist greatly in times of crisis to give out vital information.
What’s your favourite travel destination?
I have different answers depending on who I’m travelling with, but if it’s just me then it has to be New Zealand as I’m at my best in large open spaces. Throw in the opportunity for walking, kayaking and paragliding with great food and wine and it’s the perfect place for me.
Where’s your favourite place in London?
So hard! I love London for its variety. A favourite spot is Regents Park but so is theatre land. And inside a great tapas bar…
Sum up the capital in five words:
Diverse, tasty, cultural, vibrant, home